Review: La Colombe Torrefaction Nizza Espresso Blend (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

This is the second bag of La Colombe coffee that I’ve had in recent months, and this was the reason I wanted to order from them in the first place: I had heard that this company is known for their espresso. If you read my other La Colombe review, you know that I was a little taken aback that the coffee I received wasn’t roasted to order. The same was true for this bag. Mind you, the coffee wasn’t OLD… just not as fresh as it could have been.

When I buy coffee, I follow two general rules as best as I can:

  1. Don’t buy coffee that is more than a week old.
  2. Don’t buy coffee that doesn’t have a roast date on the packaging.

I ordered my coffee on February 7, and received both bags on February 11. This bag of Nizza was labeled, “Best by April 3, 2016.” Uh oh. No roast date??? A “best by” date can mean just about anything!! However, I did a little digging on Google and determined that La Colombe uses a two-month window to determine “best by” dates, which means that this bag of coffee was roasted on February 3. Still not roasted to order, but I probably would have waited a week to crack open a bag of espresso anyway, so it worked out. I slightly resent feeling like I HAVE to open a bag immediately though.

Whole bean: Medium roast, no oil sheen on the beans. Good sign so far.

It took me 4 passes before I had dialed in the grind and dosage enough to get what I considered to be a decent double espresso shot, and I kept experimenting for another 6 (not all in the same day!). I am not an expert on Italian-style espresso, as I’ve only had it a handful of times at cafes, but this blend tastes much like what I would expect from an Italian-style espresso: dark, rich, with notes of caramel and dark chocolate and a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. It made for some beautiful-looking shots, with loads of crema and very attractive mottling. At its best, it reminded me of a Milky Way candy bar.

Favorite parameters for this blend: 17 g in, 34 g out, 200 degrees F, 24 second extraction.

With milk: I think this is where this espresso blend really shines. The nutty, caramelly notes in the coffee stand up extremely well in a cappuccino, latte, etc., and made for a pretty decadent drink.

Summary: If you’re looking for a classic-tasting espresso roast, I think this would be right up your alley. Personally, I drink more straight shots vs. milk drinks, and I prefer American-style espresso that has a bit more flavor complexity, but this is a crowd-pleasing espresso blend that would be an ideal cafe workhorse and a good template for adding additional flavors if you’re into that sort of thing. I can’t speak for if it’s actually good for two months like the “best by” date claims (I try and drink all my coffee within 2-3 weeks of roasting!), but in the week or so that I experimented with it at home, I got good results.

From the roaster: Nutty, caramel, renowned

La Colombe Torrefaction Nizza Espresso Blend

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